Orlando Pride

Pride look to group cohesion, better execution in preparation for Challenge Cup match against Gotham FC


It's been a rollercoaster season for the Pride.

After almost a month of going undefeated in league play, Orlando has now dropped two games in a row as they prepare for their second game in seven days: A UKG Challenge Cup matchup with Gotham FC.

In the last two matches, the Pride have lacked the finishing touch, unable to find the back of the net. Wether it's due to opposition goalkeepers having standout performances or a lack of execution, Orlando players know that they can do better.

And the want do to better is the key.

"We just need to have more desire, we need to want it," Pride forward Ally Watt said. "We could play as much pretty soccer between the boxes, but what happens in the 18-yard boxes is what matters. We've just really been hounding on the need to have that desire and that want. And we do want it, we truly do want it but we just have to execute.

"We can't fall short of that anymore. So we're going into this knowing that we need to go and do this now. Because we still have a lot of season left, but we need to start getting it done right now before it gets a little too late in the season. But we want it, we really do want it, and we'll get it done."

Following their match against the Houston Dash this past Saturday, the team opted to stay in Texas to train before flying up to New Jersey on Saturday, looking to take the time to train a bit extra, rather than go back to Orlando just to go on the road again.

"We felt that it was the right decision to stay here, train, and then go over to New Jersey and prepare for an opportunity to bounce back from this weekend," Head coach Seb Hines said. "Challenge Cup always gives players an opportunity, we’ll rotate certain personnel, but ultimately we go in there to win a game of football and get our first win in the Cup."

With the Pride struggling to find consistency in their play on the field, the biggest thing keeping the team upbeat and positive heading into the upcoming matches is the team's culture.

Since day one of preseason, Seb Hines has preached the importance of a consistent culture that needed to exist within the team. To have it be the driving force within the squad and build the team's roots from those seeds planted. It's especially prevalent for the Pride, to be able to fall back on those early principles when times get tough.

"It's just seriously the most important thing," Watt said. "Just to be able to fall back on each other when things are getting hard, in life in general or just on the field, we just have to always stay united. We'll always have each other's back no matter what's happening on or off the field and that's the culture we need. I think that’s key to any team. It will translate to the field and it has been."

With almost half the season gone, the Pride are still in contention and are proving doubters wrong, but those relationships built in the locker room have started to translate into positive play on the pitch. It will just take time before the squad is able to find consistency. 

"It comes with time, things don’t get fixed overnight," Watt said. "As long as we're staying together, which we have been since day one, and we're buying into this culture, that will get the results you want. We have little bumps along the way. We'll just take a few steps back, but we keep moving forward."

NWSL Challenge Cup Group Stage: Orlando Pride at Gotham FC

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

TV: CBS Sports Network